Dealing with the Terrible Twos: It Starts with You

If you have a toddler in your house, then I’m sure you are familiar with the terrible twos. This is my first blog entry in what I expect to become a busy blog with loads of postings and user comments. So I thought it would be great to get the ball rolling by posting something that will help parents, and by giving a perspective not often found in the parenting community.

I have two beautiful daughters, but I would be lying if I said they were perfect little angels all the time. Of course they aren’t! We have nicknames for our girls. The oldest is “Monkey”. This was given to her when she learned to crawl in the early years. The youngest is “Kit Kat”, which was invented by my wife’s loving Aunt. It just stuck instantly!

Monkey and Kit Kat do their fare share of things that make us want to leave them with a babysitter for a few days! Most of the time my kids are quite well behaved, but they are normal – they get mad, they fight, they scream, and they throw the occasional tantrum. But it never lasts long and we always have a massive bag full of tricks to deal with these situations. The result is far less stress for my wife and I. We just roll with the punches. My 15 years of experience in NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis certainly helps, but the strategies I use to deal with toddlers can be learned by anyone very quickly.

What I want to focus on in this blog post is the need to start with yourself before you worry about your child’s behavior. How you behave on the outside is critical because your child will model you. If you scream and yell at your child then your child will scream and yell back at you. Even worse, your child will learn that this is actually something they should do when mad. Believe me, this is NOT what you want your kids to learn!

Now let’s say that you don’t scream at your kids when they misbehave, but you get really mad on the inside, yet you manage to control yourself. This is better, but kids (and all humans/animals) will pick up on your non-verbal signals. The vast majority of communication is non-verbal!

The redness in your face, the heavier breathing, the tension in your muscles and the pace of your speech will serve as non-verbal cues to your child that he or she is succeeding in pushing your buttons.

In another post I will talk about how to actually deal with your children when they misbehave. But for now what I want to get through to you is the concept of relaxation. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your non-verbal communication to your child will be far more effective.

Your inner psychology is directly connected to your outward physiology. Because of this, it is very easy to change your psychology by adjusting your physiology. This direct link is extremely useful to you because you can take specific steps to relax and stay calm when dealing with your kids.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Take a deep breath and exhale in a controlled, calm manner.
  2. Say something out loud in a very casual tone of voice. It doesn’t matter what you say, so long as you use the same voice you’d be using when talking to a close friend. Pick a phrase that you can use consistently, such that it becomes an “anchor phrase”. An example of this would be, “It’s nice to know you can always relax whenever you want to”.
  3. Recall a past memory (anything that comes to mind) when you were totally relaxed. For a few seconds, just remember what you saw, what you heard, and how good it felt. This will get you back into that same state very quickly.
  4. Take note of any remaining tension in any parts of your body (you’ll begin to notice where tension builds up for you during moments of stress). As you notice where the remaining tension is, take a moment to visualize calm, soothing white light shining on those spots of tension in your body, and just imagine that the light is melting away the tension. Pretending it is happening is no different than having it really happen – your unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference!

This whole process may take you 10 seconds. It’s purpose is to completely alter your physical and emotional state so that you’ll be in a more resourceful state to deal with the “problem child”.

When your kids are misbehaving, 10 seconds can seem like eternity. But you know better. Believe me this is 10 seconds well spent. Now, when you deal with your children, you’ll convey a stronger and calmer message, you’ll get better results, and you’ll feel better about the outcome.

Enjoy Your Children,
Chris Thompson

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids

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3 Responses to Dealing with the Terrible Twos: It Starts with You

  1. Amy VG November 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    What wonderful tips!

    I have three children, a six yr old boy, and two girls, one who is almost four and the other just turned two. Our house is full of wonderful fun and loving energy that sometimes turns into chaos.

    It’s taken me several YEARS to figure out how to calm myself when my children misbehave, as I too believe it’s definitely ineffective to show anger when “disciplining” children. Parents need to remain calm, and even loving, yet firm. I just love your tip on remembering a past time when I was feeling relaxed. I will definitely try this next time.

    Thanks so much Chris, definitely more parents need your sound, honest and sincere advice.

  2. Chris November 22, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Amy – thanks for your comment! Hey at least you found a way to stay calm. Most people never seem to figure this out during their parenting career. If you think about a professional athlete … say somebody like Tiger Woods … he has to figure out how to stay calm and collected, yet in a “peak state of performance” while there are thousands of people watching him after a bad shot. If these guys can keep it together, us parents should be able to do it as well! It really is the key to a happier life as a parent.

  3. Weight Loss Hypnosis July 12, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    great tips! we'll have our firstborn in just two months, and this certainly helps

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